* As such, I don't call that parasitic design. I call that brilliantly complex and integrated systemization of a premise for play. Particularly so given how capable and robust the PCs are (through the myriad means/resources at the disposal of the PCs and the layered decision-space).
Just to clarify, parasitic design is a specific flavor of mechanic, where the play space deteriorates over time, or as the player acts. A classic example is Tetris, where each block placed speeds up future blocks, until the game is forced to end, or an example that has a specific end state is something like Ghost Stories (or the modern implementation Last Bastion) where each player turn spawns another ghost, and each player action removes on average less than 1 ghost, thus that players need to force the game to trigger the victory condition before they're overwhelmed.
It's a term of art in game design that you use to produce specific gameplay pressures, not a flaw or a criticism of the design of Blades specifically. My experience of Blades is mostly that as a player trying to optimize outcomes, I would prefer to roll as little as possible, because the upside of taking an action is generally smaller than the downside, a hallmark of a parasitic design.
I don't disagree, but I'd contend this kind of design has a negative impact to engagement on the level of gameplay. I would put the dramatic needs of the situation at the level of goal setting, where character choices, worldbuilding and the interaction between the two create the victory conditions players then pursue, and then players can play optimally to try and succeed at those outcomes. Failure to succeed is absolutely an interesting and possible result of that, which will likely to lead to new goal prioritization.See I would frame this quite differently.
* The game demands players not only make strategic and tactical decisions that are net "positive gamestate-forward", but the game demands those same decisions be integrated with "Advancement-forward" and "dramatic need-forward" (both the individual Scoundrel the player is playing but the Crew at large) and "bold and compelling play-forward." Put another way BIG GAME LAYER + INTEGRATED BIG PROTAGONISM rather than just BIG, DISCRETE GAME LAYER.
That is an imminently more difficult decision-space (and maps profoundly more closely to the way actual, flawed-yet-capable, living creatures in a complex biome and social strata work) than "solve each obstacle optimally, no theme/premise/dramatic need or at-tension incentive structure strings attached."
The drive to "win" achieves the same outcome in the cooperative and competitive games I play (and I play them often with the same people for that reason): it creates interesting board states, from which we can make interesting decisions, and put forth different arguments about how best to proceed. My choice to specialize in grey oil production in Pipeline is not internally different from my choice to propose a stealth approach in a TTRPG; in both cases I'm putting forward an argument that this course of action will best achieve my goals, and then I have to react as the situation unfolds, to see if my choice was correct and/or what other choices need to be made to support it. It does not actually matter if I win (I lost to an orange/grey oil hybrid engine in that game of Pipeline), winning just provides context for me to try and forge a path through a complex system, and test my decisions against an unfolding scenario.
That can, but not does not have to be, a kind of engagement offered in an RPG, but it has implications for the rest of the rules, and rules design that prioritizes other forms of engagement can easily damage it. Really, I'm just saying that Challenge is a viable aesthetic for TTRPG design, and can live comfortable alongside other aesthetics of play, but has a warping element on your design if you want it to be viable. You can't serve all masters with one resolution mechanic, and like everything in game design, there's tradeoffs.
EDIT - All of the above being said, the element of "Spinning Plates" or “Walls Closing In” of Blades in the Dark (and kindred games) can be "bug" rather than "feature" for some players. I've talked to at least one whose cognitive state is just fundamentally wired to be triggered by all of those plates perpetually in the air. This isn’t a game about aligning every incentive structure perfectly in the same direction so there is no tension between them and no tradeoffs, so risk profiles and conflict can be reduced to zero, so consequences can be defanged entirely. So that absolutely is "a thing."
Very much my people. It's probably important to note this kind of engagement through optimization isn't about success, it's about the pursuit of success. Try to minimize challenges and maximize efficiencies is only interesting in environments with meaningful obstacles to push against. You see similar playloops in roguelikes, for example, where the player will often repeatedly fail as they try and find the best use of randomized, limited resources against a challenge they slowly build up more knowledge of on repeated attempts.